Kenosha, WI seeks justice for Jacob Blake

Kenosha%2C+WI+seeks+justice+for+Jacob+Blake

Sadie Romero, Editor-In-Chief

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A peaceful rally in Kenosha, WI was held this past Saturday, Aug. 29, seeking justice for Jacob Blake. Thousands gathered in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse, with dozens of Pan-African flags–otherwise known as the Black Liberation flag–surrounding the stage where rally leaders spoke, recited poetry, and shared words of grief.

Members of the Blake family spoke on his behalf, as he is currently hospitalized and in recovery, while also speaking out against police brutality. Following the rally, demonstrators marched the streets of downtown Kenosha early Saturday evening, complying with the 7 p.m. Kenosha curfew that was set in place earlier that week.

“To black people, it appears as if your skin is white, you automatically get some type of pass, or the police are not going to prejudge you. They are going to give you the ability to explain yourself,” Chicago Poet Activist and speaker at Saturday’s rally, Blaq Ice, said. “With us, we are guilty, before we are even asked any questions. It’s, ‘shoot first and ask questions later,’ and, this is what we have an issue with when it comes to Kyle, who shot and killed two people then walked past police with his hands up, who got a chance to go home at night and go to sleep. Jacob Blake did not get the opportunity to do that.”

 

Jacob Blake, 29, was shot seven times in the back on Sunday, Aug. 23, by Kenosha police officer, Rusten Sheskey, following a failure to seize him with a taser after just two attempts made by both Sheskey and a second officer, Vincent Arenas, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.

The incident began when the Kenosha Police Department was called near 28th Street and 40th Avenue for an incident regarding a domestic incident with Kenosha residents. Five minutes after the initial phone call to Kenosha Police, the officers claimed that shots were fired, according to a dispatcher. However, it was later noted that Blake had no firearm on him or in his vehicle at the time of the incident. Although, he did admit to possessing a knife on the scene sometime prior to the officer shooting him, according to CNN officials.

Within the Kenosha Police Department, it is not required that officers wear body cameras when they are on duty, in fact, they are inaccessible to them because the department doesn’t own any such cameras. This has made it difficult to compile further information regarding the initial reason for arrest and the shots made at Blake’s back. Additionally, there was no further evidence regarding the initial call to the police, because the caller did not elaborate on the situation, according to the dispatcher.

At the forefront of the incident, Blake’s three children, ages 3, 5, 8, were present on the scene in his vehicle during the time of the incident. As they witnessed their father get tased and later shot seven times, they were unaware of his ultimate state when he was flown to Milwaukee Hospital following the fired shots, according to Blake’s attorney, Ben Crump.

The attorney working with the Blake family, B’Ivory LaMarr, told NPR reporter, Audie Cornish, last week that following the many operations, Blake’s condition stands critical, while still remaining hopeful that Blake will lead a semi-normal life, with predictions of paralyzation at the lower half of his body. The domestic warrant that had him handcuffed to his hospital bed was vacated Friday, Aug. 28th, although the charges are still pending, according to Blake’s legal team.

With the Black Lives Matter movement gaining traction this past summer following the police homicide of George Floyd, the police shooting of Blake is no exception. Since last week’s incident, demonstrations and protests have taken place for Blake across the state of Wisconsin.

During Tuesday night’s demonstration, 17-year-old Illinois-resident, Kyle Rittenhouse crossed state lines possessing an AR-15-style rifle while being under the age of 18, later shooting three demonstrators, resulting in two deaths. 

Rittenhouse told Daily Caller Chief Video Director, Richie McGinniss, that it was his job to protect a Kenosha business that was on fire the night before, while also protecting himself and those in danger, “if there is somebody hurt, I am running into harm’s way. That is why I have my rifle, because I need to protect myself obviously,” Rittenhouse told the right-wing website. 

Shortly after the interview with McGinniss took place, Rittenhouse fatally wounded demonstrators Joseph Rosenbaum (36) and Anthony Huber (26), and injured Gaige Grosskreutz (26), who is now in recovery.

After shooting at the demonstrators, Rittenhouse walked past police officials with his hands up but was then told to get out of the way, as they were trying to find the source of the gunshots, and had not suspected him to be involved. 

“Nothing suggested this person or anybody else who was armed around them was the person,” said Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis during a press conference on Friday.

At that time, Rittenhouse was able to safely return to his home in Antioch, Ill., with no further suspicion that he fired the fatal shots. The next morning, he turned himself in and was then apprehended in Illinois, where he is currently being held. His virtual hearing was held on Friday, Aug. 28, where the court date was extended 30 days so that he can attain a team of private attorneys. 

Rittenhouse is being charged as an adult in the state of Wisconsin for first-degree intentional homicide, in which he could potentially serve life in prison, along with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment, and possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18, according to a USA Today report.

Kenosha police are receiving major backlash regarding the drastic contrast in their handling of the domestic incident with Jacob Blake versus the alleged murder by Kyle Rittenhouse.

The ethics of Kenosha Police was placed into question by many Black Lives Matter supporters and activists at the weekend rally, in simply evaluating what justice, to date, was served for the two individuals. Many of the speakers at the rally on Saturday suggested that the two situations, in themselves, show that there can be racism within the system.

Blake’s father, Jacob Blake, Sr., described an example of two existing justice systems in America. The first, being the justice system that allowed Rittenhouse to return to his home after having shot three people, and the other being the system that shot his son seven times. Blake, Sr. reminded men, women and children of color that they must love the skin that they are in.

“Do not look down at yourself,” he said. “You stand up and be proud of yourself. You be proud of the black suits you put on every day.”